German domestic intelligence head forced into ministry position

The head of Germany’s domestic intelligence agency was ordered to leave the position and take on a role at the Interior Ministry Tuesday.

Hans-Georg Maassen was stripped of his role as head of Germany's domestic intelligence agency and given a position as deputy minister of the Interior Ministry. Photo by Filip Singer/EPA
Hans-Georg Maassen was stripped of his role as head of Germany’s domestic intelligence agency and given a position as deputy minister of the Interior Ministry. Photo by Filip Singer/EPA

Hans-Georg Maassen — the head of the domestic intelligence agency, formerly known as the Office for the Protection of the Constitution or BfV — was stripped of all connection with the agency, but given a position as deputy minister of the Interior Ministry, Deutsche Welle reported.

The move was made through a deal between the Social Democrat Party — which called for Maassen’s removal after he clashed with Chancellor Angela Merkel over the country’s refugee policy — and conservative Interior Minister Horst Seehofer, who supported him.

“The Office of the President of the Office for the Protection of the Constitution will be re-filled. In future Mr. Maassen will become a state secretary in the Interior Ministry. Interior Minister Horst Seehofer has high regard for Mr. Maassen’s abilities on questions of domestic security, but he will not be responsible for the BfV within the ministry,” the German government said.

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Maassen’s removal from the agency followed criticism for his denial of reports of anti-migrant “hunts” reported in Chemnitz, eastern Germany on Aug. 26 after a German was killed in a fight with migrants.

He also questioned the legitimacy of a video shared by the “Antifa Zeckenbiss” Twitter page, showing protesters chasing a man through the streets while shouting xenophobic slurs.

In addition to questioning the migrant hunts, Massen was criticized for sharing sensitive information about security priorities with the populist Alternative for Germany Party.

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Green Party parliamentary leader Katrin-Göring Eckardt criticized the decision to allow Massen to take on a role in the ministry as “an unbelievable fudge” by the government.

“Anyone who rewards rather than sanctioning disloyalty and cozying up to the AfD has lost all sense of what’s right and wrong. And the SPD goes along with everything,” she said.

Seehofer, who had threatened to leave the ministry if Maassen was dismissed, is expected to provide details on the shift in office on Wednesday, including announcing Maassen’s possible replacement at the BfV.

ByDaniel Uria